Croker Sack

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." — Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Hot Air in Gotham

There’s an interesting contrast between the news reported by BBC News and that reported by The New York Times regarding the recently concluded “COP 10” conference on global warming.

According to The New York Times, the U.S. is obstructing things. In an AP story published on December 18 and in a bylined article published on December 19, The New York Times portrayed the U.S. as having prevented agreement on future discussions of what will follow the Kyoto Protocol’s commitments after 2012.

Here are excerpts from the AP story, published by The New York Times on December 18:
U.N. Climate Talks Yield Little Progress
Filed at 1:53 p.m. ET
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Long nights of backroom wrangling and a last-minute tangle produced a deal Saturday that opens a small door to international talks about what comes ``beyond Kyoto'' as the world grapples with the threat of global warming.

Bush administration envoys to a U.N. conference, allied with some developing countries, including oil producers, blocked any more ambitious effort to cap fossil-fuel emissions after reductions mandated by the Kyoto Protocol, the climate pact rejected by President Bush, expire in 2012.


Even this U.S.-European compromise [a proposal to meet in May 2005 for informal discussions of a range of issues], brought to the open floor for routine adoption at the end of the two-week conference, was stalled for hours Saturday morning by India, China and others -- as the sun rose over Buenos Aires and convention-hall workers began dismantling temporary office walls.

``Developing countries and the U.S. didn't want to see a wider opening for new commitments,'' Chinese delegate Gao Feng explained to a reporter. With Argentina's mediation, new language was inserted on the floor saying the seminar ``does not open any negotiation leading to new commitments.'' [Emphasis added.]

It’s possible to see that countries other than the U.S. were disagreeing with the proposal for a meeting in May – apparently because they didn’t want any discussion of future commitments to reduce “greenhouse gas” emissions.

Here’s The New York Times article’s explanation of the same events in the next day’s edition:

U.S. Waters Down Global Commitment to Curb Greenhouse Gases
BUENOS AIRES, Dec. 18 - Two weeks of negotiations at a United Nations conference here on climate change ended early Saturday with a weak pledge to start limited, informal talks on ways to slow down global warming, after the United States blocked efforts to begin more substantive discussions.

The main focus was to discuss the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, which goes into force on Feb. 16 and will require industrial nations to make substantial cuts in their emissions of so-called greenhouse gases. But another goal had been to draw the United States, which withdrew from the accord in 2001, back into discussions about ways to mitigate climate change after 2012, when the Kyoto agreement expires.

Governments that are already committed to reducing emissions under the Kyoto plan used diplomatic language to express their disappointment at the American position. Environmental groups, however, were more critical of what they characterized as obstructionism.

"This is a new low for the United States, not just to pull out, but to block other countries from moving ahead on their own path," said Jeff Fiedler, an observer representing the Washington-based Natural Resources Defense Council. "It's almost spiteful to say, 'You can't move ahead without us.' If you're not going to lead, then get out of the way."
Why weren’t China, India, and the other developing countries mentioned by The New York Times in the subsequent article?

Why didn’t either article in The New York Times state clearly what objection was raised by China, India and the other developing countries?

Here’s how BBC News reported the end of the conference:

BBC News
Last Updated: Saturday, 18 December, 2004, 12:57 GMT
Compromise seals climate meeting
Delegates at the UN climate change conference in Buenos Aires have reached agreement on ways to address the issue of global warming.

They approved a compromise proposal on the format of future discussions agreed by the US and the EU overnight.

Some developing countries had threatened to derail the deal, insisting on guarantees that they would not be subjected to emission cuts. [Emphasis added.]

But the demand was rejected by the EU and a new compromise emerged.


The agreement seemed in trouble when India - supported by China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia - called for an amendment at the start of the final session on Saturday.

They insisted on a written guarantee that the deal would not lead to imposition of carbon reduction commitments on developing nations.

The EU opposed this, saying the outcome of future talks should not be prejudiced.

The differences between the EU and the US centred on talks on emission cuts when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

The Europeans insisted on a series of informal meetings. In the end the US won its demand for one meeting, next May, but agreed it would be held over several days.

The meeting will be held in Germany and "promote an informal exchange of information" on cutting harmful emissions and adapting to climate change, according to the draft text.
The bottom line seems to be: The U.S. says it is too early to be discussing actions that may follow the limits required by the Kyoto Protocol; while India, China, and other developing nations say, in effect, “you can take those ideas of limits on us and shove ‘em.”

It is obvious who the obstructionists are – assuming for the sake of discussion that’s a fair characterization of any country that objects to being subject to the impractical and ineffective idea of imposing limits on carbon dioxide emissions. They are India, China, and the unnamed others. [Saudi Arabia wanted to be paid for the loss of profits that would result from reduced petroleum use – ha-ha. Pakistan’s objection wasn’t stated.]

Why wouldn’t The New York Times clearly state the position of India and China? It seems obvious that the paper’s purpose is to bash Bush, not to inform the American public of the pertinent facts.


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